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Seniors continue journey toward religious vows

| Friday, May 16, 2014

After graduation, as many of their classmates start new careers, attend graduate school or begin post-graduate service, a handful of seniors will begin the process of entering religious life. 

Religious LifePhoto courtesy of Joshua Bathon

Joshua Bathon, Vincent Nguyen and Alfredo Guzman-Dominguez will all begin a year at their orders’ respective novitiates in late summer. 

Joshua Bathon and Vincent Nguyen, both graduates of the Old College undergraduate seminary program at Notre Dame, will spend the next year at the Congregation of Holy Cross’s novitiate beginning in August. Bathon, a history and philosophy major from South Carolina, described the novitiate experience as “a long retreat, essentially,” which includes “a lot of prayer and silence.”

At the novitiate in Colorado, Bathon and Nguyen will receive their habits and take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. After that year, they will return to Notre Dame to receive their Masters of Divinity. 

Guzman-Dominguez, who lived in Morrissey Manor, will enter the Dominican order after graduation and move to their novitiate in St. Louis.  

“It’s like boot camp for religious life,” he said. 

A New York native, Guzman-Dominguez said he wanted to be a priest since his sophomore year of high school. 

“I think my calling is in some way to be an intellectual,” he said. “I was attracted to orders that had a strong intellectual element to their vocation, which means not only that they are academics, but that study informs the way they approach their faith and they way they approach their life. … Caring about things like literature and art and beauty is almost a staple of the Dominicans.”

While he does not know exactly what work he will do in the future, Guzman-Dominguez said he plans to keep his options open. 

“I would probably choose to work in a university,” he said. “I don’t know if I would choose to go for further studies and to become a professor … I think I would like that — I would love to teach Italian and Dante — but I would really like to work with students and their lives personally, so maybe something like campus ministry. That’s a place where I think you can make Jesus present almost more directly.”

Nguyen, an economics and philosophy major, said he could see himself becoming a pastor. 

“That’s just what I feel called to do,” he said. “… Of course, I’ll go wherever I end up. I’d love to go to France and visit the priest in charge of creating the shrine of Basil Moreau.”

When Bathon entered Old College, he said he still was not sure about whether or not he wanted to enter religious life. He said he had entertained the idea throughout high school, but he was unsure if entering seminary right away would be the right decision.

“But my senior year of high school I was dating a girl, and I was starting to think about a future … starting to think about making colleges work together,” he said. “I went to a wedding and in the vows they said, “I give myself to you unreservedly,” and I realized I couldn’t say that because there was this question in my head. That’s when I started reconsidering putting myself in the seminary, not because I knew I wanted to be a priest, but because I needed to figure it out.”

Bathon said his experience in the undergraduate seminary has made him feel prepared for the vocation to the priesthood.

“I’ve learned all of those things people tend to worry about — not having money, not getting married — they’re sacrifices made out of love. I’m giving myself up. My entire life will be focused on every single person, and giving my life to them. 

“I’ve found a beauty in that in the last four years. I want [my friends] to know that yes, I am going to be alright; it’s going to be a beautiful life, and I’m so excited to be a part of it.”

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About Margaret Hynds

Margaret is a senior Political Science major and the former Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. She hails from Washington, D.C., and is a former Phox of Pangborn Hall. Follow Margaret on Twitter @MargaretHynds

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